Effects of California’s five-year drought still evident in San Luis Obispo County community of Nipomo

By on June 30, 2017

Although California Governor Jerry Brown declared California’s historic five-year drought officially over for most of the state, the small census-designated community of Nipomo is one of the few places in the state where water supplies are lacking. Data from the representative groundwater wells on the Nipomo Mesa was collected in April, reviewed and then verified by the Nipomo Mesa Management Area Technical Group in May and June, revealing that the Nipomo area’s groundwater supplies remain critically low. Subsequently, the Nipomo Mesa Management Area Technical Group recently released an update stating that the Nipomo area remains in a severe water shortage condition.

Whereas the central coast, like much of California, had an above average amount of rain over the recent winter, the Nipomo area’s groundwater supply did not improve to a level sufficient to lift it out of Stage IV of the Water Shortage Response and Management Plan. The situation affects the three Nipomo area water providers including the Nipomo Community Services District (CSD), Golden State Water Company, and Woodlands Mutual Water Company.

Although the state’s rivers and reservoirs have filled across the state, groundwater aquifers are much slower to recover than surface water sites. Groundwater aquifers can often take years or even decades to recover from a prolonged drought much like what California experienced in the past five-plus years.

“Our water table did not come up as we anticipated,” Nipomo CSD General Manager Mario Iglesias said. “The readings are what the readings are, and yes, we are short still.

“Irrigation is the highest percentage of water consumption, and you can imagine that July, August, and September are those big months,” Iglesias said in the Santa Maria Sun. “We just ask customers to irrigate two days a week on their sprinkler systems, and if they are going to irrigate outside plants, to hand water them.”

When Gov. Brown issued Executive Order B-40-17 on April 7 declaring the state’s historic drought officially over he exempted Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne counties from the order. The approximate 16,750 residents of Nipomo are also still impacted by the lingering effects of the state’s most recent drought; state officials and Nipomo area water providers are warning Nipomo residents that another drought could possibly be around the corner.

All Californians are reminded that the state’s permanent prohibitions on wasting water still prevail. Permanent restrictions on wasteful water use include;

  • Hosing off sidewalks, driveways and other hardscapes;
  • Washing automobiles with hoses not equipped with a shut-off nozzle;
  • Using non-recirculated water in a fountain or other decorative water feature;
  • Watering lawns in a manner that causes runoff, or within 48 hours after measurable precipitation; and
  • Irrigating ornamental turf on public street medians.